Monday, 31 December 2012

A Formal Dinner to Welcome the New Year

On New Year's Eve we always have a formal 3 course sit down dinner.Candles will be lit,  there'll be flowers on the table , and we'll be suitably dressed. The silver might even get a polish and we'll share it with a friend or two.

The thought of a formal dinner like this can be really daunting to some but what I cooked this year wasn't difficult and it didn't take all day but it was a really special so I'll post it.

There are no pics ( except one of the chocolate mousse which I took well beforehand) because it would have felt too intrusive to be snapping each course before it went on the table.

To begin with some nibbles. A platter of sliced ciabatta bread and crackers with olives, a variety of cheeses and a jar of Caramelised Onion and Kawakawa from the Summerset Grocer's Gourmet Deli in Ashburton which my daughter brought back from her South Island Travels.

They were served with  a Stonecroft Hawkes Bay Gewurtztraminer 2000 brought by our guest.

The entree

I made an luxurious Annabel Langbein recipe: a little salad of scallops, asparagus, avocado and basil dressed with a citrussy dressing spiked with fish sauce and chilli. It was arranged on individual plates .The recipe can be found at :

The main course: A Fillet of Beef

To accompany this my partner had chosen a  Trinity Hill 2007 Syrah.

My partner is the meat roaster. He marinated a piece of beef fillet in olive oil spiked with chopped rosemary and garlic before searing, roasting and resting it. It was served it with a mustard sauce which was largely composed of a grainy mustard out of a jar (to which a tablespoon of mustard was added and a little honey).This meant there was no need for gravy and the sauce could be made well beforehand and stored in the fridge. Here is the recipe:

To go alongside I made  scalloped potatoes laced with garlic with milk instead of cream and parcooked them in a large oval dish. They were still warm when I put them back in the oven (while the fillet was roasting) sprinkled with some finely grated cheddar cheese which was bubbly and golden by the time we were ready to eat. I'm lucky I have a large oven and a smaller one so could cook both at the same time but at different temperatures.

And I also cooked a recipe which I posted earlier for long sweet red  peppers roasted in a mixture of olive oil and balsamic vinegar with dried origanum and parsley, These can be served hot or at room temperature and they are good either way. But I reheated them as the fillet was resting. And cooked some green beans on top of the stove. The colour contrast between the green beans and vibrabnt red peppers was arresting.

After the Main Course

We had a little salad to cleanse our palates (as the French do) before the dessert composed of some little mesclun leaves and rocket freshly picked out of the garden and dressed simply with oil and vinegar.

The Dessert: Cocolate Mousse with Marinated Strawberries and Ice cream

Chocolate Mousse.

 I made this the night before.My favourite recipe contains no cream but has an intensely chocolaty flavour.To make it bring 200 grams of dark chocolate together with 125 grams of water gently to the boil in a saucepan and let it simmer for 1-2 minutes until slightly thickened. Move the saucepan away from the heat, let it stand for a minute or so and then beat in 3 egg yolks one at a time and 1 tablespoon of Grand Marnier ( if you have some) Beat 3 eggwhites until they are stiff and them gradually beat in 3 tablespoons of sugar, a little at a time, until they are glossy. Fold the eggwhites into the warm choclate mixture and either spoon into 6 small pots or into one large bowl. Leave to set in the fridge.

Marinated Strawberries

I dehulled the strawberries before dinner . Ten minutes before serving I marinated them in some Telegraph Hill Cabernet Drizzle which gives them a superb slightly sweet tawny flavour.

With some vanilla icecream this made a perfect ending to the dinner.

And to top off the evening some-one had generously brought a box of chocolates to pass around with the coffee which on which we indulged as the noise of exploding fireworks outside signalled that 2013 had started. A Happy beginning to the New Year!



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